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CDHB Funds New Role To Increase Youth Activity

DATE: 17 September, 2008 SUBJECT:

CDHB Funds New Role To Increase Youth Physical Activity

A new position funded by the Canterbury District Health Board will help to identify the types of physical activity that Canterbury’s young people enjoy – with the long term aim of increasing the number who participate regularly.

New Active Youth Advisor Aaron Webb, who took up his appointment last week, will be based at Sport Canterbury on a two-year contract. The aim of his role, which will cover the CDHB’s district of responsibility Kaikoura to Ashburton and across to the Southern Alps, will be to find out what opportunities are available for young people to participate in physical activity in Canterbury. He will also recommend how services could be improved so that more young people can, and want to, take part in regular exercise. A youth advisory group will be set up to oversee the work.

Mr Webb said a key part of his role would involve finding out from 13-18 year olds the types of activities in which they want to participate in the community. Until now, many of the activities aimed at young people have been school-based. “One way of doing this is to talk to young people about what is already there if they want to take part in physical activity, and what is missing,” he said.

Canterbury District Health Board Healthy Eating Healthy Action Service Development Manager Theresa Thompson said the new position was created after a “stock take” of services across Canterbury showed there was a lack of opportunities available for young people to engage in physical activity.

She said although it was important young people were able to take part in more traditional forms of exercise, such as team sports, one aim was to look at alternative activities that young people enjoy and would like the opportunity to participate in, such as dance, BMXing and skateboarding. “This initiative will complement a peerled dance programme, funded by Partnership Health Canterbury Primary Health Organisation and the CDHB, which has been running in some secondary schools this year. The programme is allowing students to work toward dance instructor accreditation, whilst providing the opportunity for a sustainable dance programme at school. The exciting thing about the Active Youth initiative is that it has the potential to make a real difference to the physical activity levels among young people.

Evidence shows that if young people develop good physical activity habits when they are young, they are more likely to continue when they are older.”

Mr Webb said: “We are trying to build a sustainable programme so that when young people come to have children themselves, they will be role models and will encourage them to take part in regular physical activity.”

Guidelines suggest young people from 5-18 years old should take part in an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Before taking up his new role, Aaron was Programme Manager for the Kimihia Adventure Programme, an alternative education initiative that uses physical activity to encourage at-risk youth to attend school.

ENDS

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